Technological Change and Society
Technologies across areas such as information and communication technologies, biotechnologies, robotics, and artificial intelligence present a series of challenges for modern societies: “smart” technologies changes the workplace, the division of resources in society, the formation of social attitudes and opinions, the patterns and dynamic of social interactions, the allocation and exercise of power. This theme group aims to assess the novel social, economic, ethical, and legal questions that arise.
Technological change in the workplace has already contributed to automation in manufacturing, and advances in AI and robotics are likely to exacerbate this and extend it beyond manufacturing. Digital technologies change interactions in society: on the one hand they allow for greater ability to share, acquire and process information, but also enable increased surveillance and manipulation. New technologies also raise ethical and legal issues, concerning how to prevent both misuse and underuse of technological developments.
This requires the assessment of opportunities and risks related to transformation induced by technologies, and research meant to translate legal/ethical requirements into prescriptions for the design of human-centred technologies or even directives addressed to intelligent artificial systems.
The challenge is to ensure that highly developed technologies remain under human control, contribute to human well-being and autonomy, and are responsive to human values —while their development is also driven by economic, political and military interests. This research requires us to learn from the historical perspective on the connection between science, technology, and society, and to use economic, legal and sociological perspectives to provide insights for the future.
Leads: Prof. Giacomo Calzolari (ECO), Prof. Nicolas Petit (LAW), and Prof. Giovanni Sartor (LAW)